Created: April 03, 2020 07:35 PM
Gopher hockey sophomore Sampo Ranta will be back on campus for his junior year next season.
"It a pretty clear," Ranta said on a video chat with KSTP Sports' Chris Long. "It was something I was giving thought for sure. I didn’t have to make the decision in a rush.
Ranta was Colorado's 3rd round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and there were many who felt he might be ready to make the move from college to the pros.
"The more days went by the more I knew I was coming back," he said." I love the team, love everything about Minnesota. I think we’re gonna have a great next year. It’s exciting and I want to be part of it."
Ranta's 12 goals in the truncated 2019-2020 season were second only to Scott Reedy's 15 among Gopher players.
The Gophers were preparing for the Big Ten Semifinals when the season wash shut down due to the ongoing health crisis.
After a dismal start to the season, the Gophers had surged and were squarely on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
"We have unfinished business," Ranta said. "We had a huge second half. We got better as a team. You could tell by the way we played at the end of the year we were one of the best teams in the country. Next year, that’s where we want to be again. We don’t want to have slow starts, or anything like that. We want to get right there."
Ranta had the longest journey among Gopher players - likely among the longest in the entire Gopher athletics department - to get home after campus closed down.
He described his exodus from Minnesota to Western Finland as relatively smooth, but definitely strange.
"It as a little crazy," he said. "All the airports were empty, but I got flights, it wasn’t too bad. A little hassle at the airport, but I got home and I’m safe and healthy. That’s what matters. It was all good."
Ranta says the scene in Finland these days is similar to that here in the United States.
"We’re doing well. It’s under control. We’re all home - a stay home thing," he said. "Not much to do - can’t go out to eat or anything. It is what it is. Can’t do much but stay home, do our part, that’s what we can do now, let the healthcare experts do their thing and see what happens."
He's been relying on technology to close the thousands-of-miles gap between him and his teammates, saying the entire team has been communicating daily.
"I miss the guys. They’re brothers to me," he said. "We stay in touch - we talk a lot, I want to know how they’re doing. They want to know how I’m doing.
"If you didn’t have phones and all this - FaceTime, Zoom - it’d be harder. But it’s easy to keep touch with FaceTimes, phone calls, texts, we do that all the time. It helps a lot. But without those things, it’d be lonely. Not much to do at the end of the day. But, a good way to keep in touch. It’s what I want to do, coaches want us to do it - just keep in touch and know how everyone is doing."
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